The Curtain Spider

The Personal Journal of Stimperton Othecary

June 10, 1922

I have decided that I will start a new journal today. With the advent of summer, I have entered into a new season. Likewise, due to somewhat unfortunate cirmcumstances, I have also entered into a new period in my life and career.

As I have stated in my previous journals, my most recent pursuits have been the study of the science of Pharmacology at the Medical School of Miskatonic University. During this time, my most ardent companion has been a fellow student of Pharmacology by the name of Renworth Hempton.

As Renworth and I completed our last round of courses at Miskatonic, it became distressingly apparent that neither of us were destined to enjoy success in our attempts to procure a degree from that institution. Although both of us are young men with fairly agile minds, and both of us found the pharmacological sciences to be extremely interesting and enjoyable, we were both met with one sad notice of failure after another by our instructors.

Many young men have fallen by the wayside along the path of higher education. With many of these men, the cause of their fall has been an unstemmable development of a sense of ennui regarding the subject of their studies. However, this was not the case for Renworth and me.

It has become quite plain to both of us that the one reason for our inability to succeed in the advancement of our educations has been that our love of pharmacology was just a bit too strong, and too personal. In our quest for knowledge, we approached and dared to even, might I say, “frolick” carelessly along a dangerous precipice in the form of personal experimentation.

It seemed sensible enough to the both of us that, in order to have sufficient knowledge to dispense medicines properly to the public, we should have first hand experiences with many of the potent mixtures that were our trade. Unfortunately, we were a trifle too cavalier in our forays. It appears that we did not take proper precautions. We did not show sufficient discrimination in our selections of potions to imbibe.

As the months passed, we both began to find certain daily activities to be too bothersome to pursue with any real interest. The more mundane and theoretical portions of our studies we tended to ignore. It was the experimental and experiential part of the science of pharmaceuticals that now held our total attention – to the exclusion of all else.

It is an unfortunate fact that, in this field, personal knowledge of the effects of those substances is not held as the ruler by which one’s level of scholarship is measured.

In the end, our instructors were united in the one last set of instructions that they imparted. We were told that our performance in their classes was too poor to allow us to proceed further in our studies with the college. Moreover, they all seemed to be of the opinion that we had developed dangerous habits in terms of freely sampling the various narcotics and medicines with which the field dealt. They advised us to leave the campus and seek out places where we could marshal our senses and wills once more to the point that we might be able to pursue some other course of studies. Preferably a course in studies that did not deal with any sort of substances that could be construed to have the ability to induce one to develop unhealthy practices.

Thus, Renworth and I are faced with a dilemma. Now that we are blocked from the field which held such fascination for us, what are we to do for careers? How are we to manage to make comfortable livings for ourselves? Moreover, how are we to manage to afford those medicinal luxuries to which we had become accustomed?

June 16th, 1922

Renworth and I have been sharing a small rented room in one of Arkham’s many dreary boarding houses. It is a cramped and unpleasant room with shoddy furnishings and a nearly perpetual smell of mildew. I say nearly perpetual due to the fact that the odor of the mildew is occasionally overpowered by the unpleasant reek of one of our fellow boarder’s bizarre repasts.

It is truly abhorrent that Renworth and I have been reduced to such a state that we must share an abode with such peculiar foreigners as sometimes make their way to Arkham. Aside from the general annoyance of being unable to properly communicate with these recent arrivals to our shores, the most definite offense that they present is undeniably the odors produced from the preperation their alien diets. While I am often more than happy to simply ignore their existence and not attempt to converse with them, I find that I am unable to ignore the stenches that seep through the thin walls of this building.

I only wish that Renworth and I were able to afford to live in a place that is more of the style to which we are accustomed. However, our finances are limited and our budgets tend to be somewhat strained by the purchase of certain pharmacons. Although the professors at our prior institution of learning felt that we should no longer pursue the study of elixirs and nostrums, we do not concur. Renworth and I have decided that we would continue our pursuits in that field in a somewhat non-professional and less rigorous manner.

As it has happened, the two of us have discovered that the skills that we have developed in our studies, although incomplete, are still marketable. Due to the government’s imposition upon the general public of the prohibition of alcoholic beverages, there are many people who are exceedingly keen on the idea of sampling other compounds as a method of recreation. As the two of us have become quite knowledgeable regarding the nature and proper dosage of various elixirs, we now find ourselves in a position to aid these seekers of divergent sensations.

We now face several obstacles which I am confident can be overcome. First and foremost, the room in which we are now living does not provide the amenities we require for the proper preparation of medicinals. We must devise some manner of acquiring a place where we carry out the necessary activities with the proper tools. We have already searched through the available retail locations in this area and have found none that suit our needs. Therefore, we have come to the conclusion that our operations will need to be accomplished in two different locations.

Renworth will seek out a small retail space that we can use for meeting with our various clients. I will have the duty of securing a suitable location for the preparation of the products that we will be providing. The truly disheartening problem is that, with our shortage of funds, we will not be able to afford any locations that are likely to be pleasant. Moreover, the lion’s share of our funding must be routed towards the location that our clients will be seeing. It is simply the nature of business that you put your best foot forward. The result will be that I will have to venture into, what will undoubtedly be, some rather noisome holes to locate the type of rooms we need for our production facility.

June 18th, 1922

Renworth definitely has the more desirable of the two jobs we need to complete. I have had little luck in my quest to find a suitable location for our production operations. The few places within our budget that I have seen so far were entirely unacceptable. The decrepit buildings were uniformly in need of the attention of a skilled arsonist.

However, tomorrow I am going to see a location that may hold some promise. The building was, in the past, a large mortuary. It is situated nearly in the middle of Arkham’s largest and oldest cemetery. The current owner of the place seems to be somewhat devoid of any business savvy. He has converted the building into a collection of residential apartments. Due to the fact that the building is located in such a macabre area, he has found little interest in the rooms he is offering to the public. Thus, he has been forced to charge rents far below the norm.

I have passed the building before and, despite its age and its past usage, it appears to be in rather good condition. If the interior condition of the structure is as sound as the outer condition appears, then I may have struck upon an excellent bargain. Best of all, the owner has stated that the basement of the building was used for all of the previous tenant’s embalming pursuits. Apparently, the basement still contains the types of utilities that one might expect in a quasi-medical operation. The basement is available for rent and the owner stated that he has no objections to our intention to use it for light industry. It sounds perfect!

June 19th, 1922

I have visited the ex-mortuary building that I mentioned in the previous journal entry. It was not exactly what I expected, but it will still definitely suit our purposes. I have signed the necessary papers and payed the necessary fees. Renworth and I will be able to start setting up our operations immediately.

However, my initial visit to the site was peculiar enough that I believe I will describe it here in some detail. It was one of those odd experiences in life that I am sure I will be interested in perusing in my future years.

The structure is actually totally surrounded by the neighboring graveyard with only a long driveway connecting it to the non-sepulchral world. Originally, the cemetery was limited to an area adjacent to, but not encompassing, the mortuary. The mortuary was situated on a large grassy lawn of its own, which held no tombs. However, with the recent occurence of the Great War and the onset of the epidemic of 1919, Arkham was forced to unexpectedly inter a fairly large number of departed citizens. It was deemed the simplest solution was to enlarge the area of the graveyard into the area around the mortuary. The mortician was highly amenable to the plan, no doubt due to the fact that he would be profiting greatly in the deal.

Aside from the necropolis which has enveloped the retired mortuary, the other important inhabitants of the neighborhood are a large hospital and a home for the infirm. The hospital is called St. Philemon’s and has an unsavory reputation. It is a Catholic hospital that mainly serves recent immigrants of that faith who tend to conglomerate in the low rent districts nearby. It is widely regarded as one of the worst run hospitals in the state. The mortality rate of those it treats is distressingly high. Only the most direly ill and desperately impoverished individuals willingly go there seeking treatment. The home for the infirm is, unfortunately, administered by the same agency and has earned a reputation no better. It is probably no coincidence that these institutions are situated adjacent to the town’s largest mass of graves.

When I approached the building, I tarried a moment to study its character from without. However, the landlord apparently was awaiting my arrival. As I stood perusing his property, he emerged and beckoned me to enter in haste. He claimed that he was exceedingly busy that day and that he had no time to waste “waiting for me to leisurely examine every minute detail.”

The landlord, Mr. Effluvium, is a truly bizarre individual. He is cursed with a highly abnormal visage. The fellow has the misfortune to seemingly be constructed almost entirely of arms, legs, and head. His torso almost seems to have gone missing. The miniscule dimensions of the trunk of his body seem almost to defy common human physiology. I cannot help but wonder if his growth was stunted in some truly freakish manner, perhaps by a contagion such as polio.

While the misshapen nature of his body is certainly enough to give one pause, he is the further recipient of misfortune in that his face bears a noticable and remarkable set of birthmarks. These marks are simply two sets of three circular pigmentations each. Each set is situated on either side of his face in a rather symetric arrangement. These added circular features almost induce the impression that he has many more than the generally accepted number of eyes. Sadly, the pigments are of an odd bright red nature, making them extremely visible from any distance. In fact, when seen from afar, they are almost more visible than his actual eyes. Overall, I have no doubt that he is a bachelor. It is unavoidable that he would be, due to the fact that there is no woman on the entire globe who would be able to tolerate awakening each morn to the sight of him.

One rather inconvenient feature of our new workspace is that it has no outside door by which it can be accessed. In fact, it has no private enterance at all. We will be forced to traverse the living quarters of the landlord to enter into and depart from the area we will be renting. Fortunately, the door to the basement is situated very near the door to the landlord’s abode, so that we will only have to tolerate imposing upon his personal area for a very short distance.

The sights which I beheld while I crossed that short portion of his rooms exposed him as an individual whose tastes and sense of decorum must be at least as peculiar as his appearance. His furnishings were all of the most cheerless temperament. The overwhelmingly most common type of furniture visible was bookshelves. He appeared to have a massive collection of tomes.

While I did not have the opportunity to closely examine any of his books, from a distance I could easily notice that the works were not the type usually seen in the home of a person of average wealth. The collection appeared to contain a great number of antique books. I can only assume that he must be a collector of literaty antiquities, or possibly even a dealer therein. His non-book decorations were generally of a morbid sort – skulls, stuffed specimens, odd charts and maps, and instruments of strange design and indeterminant employment.

However, I must add that the furnishings of the room were not the first item to catch my attention. As I entered the front door, all of my attention was suddenly riveted to the singular “odor” which visciously attacked my nasal passages. I am unsure of what term to use for this “odor”, for I know of no synonyms which would be of sufficiently horrid character to be accurate. Stench is insufficient for this rotting, fecal, charnel-house stink. Even those words are pale and bland in comparison to the frighteningly violent assault my nostrils experienced. I very nearly thought I was going to fall and expire right at that very spot, at that very time. The only iota of accuracy I can provide descriptively is that the smell was of a rotting sort. It was a rotting smell that I sincerely doubt has yet to be rivaled by any other stench of decay in all the cosmos.

Mr. Effluvium seemed to sense my distress instantly. He peered back at me as he led me towards the basement. With a half snarl he asked what my problem was. When I managed to gasp out something about a smell, he rolled his eyes as if I were completely daft. With a wave of his elongated arm he dismissed my agony as pure imagination. Strangely enough, his eyes almost seemed to literally glow red in anger as he turned on me and stated that there was no strange smell in the house. With the red hue in his eyes, I was suddenly presented with an overly large human face which seemed to be adorned with eight glowing red orbs. Two orbs were his eyes, the other six were his birth marks.

The sight produced a sudden and terrible shock in my system. I swear that I almost felt a palpable “snap” within my head. I could do naught but stand stunned until Mr. Effluvium backed away and seemingly resolved himself into a slightly more normal state of existence.

That is when, of all the peculiar things so far encountered, the very most peculiar occurred. I suddenly found that the evil odor was no longer perceptable. It had vanished like a horrid daydream.

At first I assumed that the smell must have completely annihilated my olfactory senses all together. However, I found that when I brought my arm near my face, I could still detect the subtle aroma of my shirt’s fabric. At that point I began to wonder about my sanity. I still cannot fathom the cause of such a strange occurrence. Perhaps it was a particularly nasty side effect from one of the tonics I have recently sampled?

At any rate, I was able to proceed with my inspection of the basement workspace and found that it would admirably suit our needs. Thus, I secured the site for our use by providing the landlord with the necessary deposit and attended to the legal bric-a-brac. Within days we will be able to begin producing a wide assortment of tempting tonics, potions, and analeptics for our clients.

June 27th, 1922

Renworth and I have, thus far, had great success in our endeavours. Renworth located the perfect little den from which we will dispense our wonders to the world. We have procured the necessary furnishings and tools for both the shop and the laboratory. We have also managed to acquire a nice assortment of substances from which we will be producing our stock. It was necessary for Renworth and I to scale back on our personal level of therapeutic researches so as to be able to make the needed expenditures, but I am sure that the investment and sacrifice will be worthwhile. Still, the deprivation has left us both a bit more on edge than is strictly pleasant.

When I brought Renworth to the site of our new working area he suffered the same peculiar olfactory attack which I had experienced previously. He, too, was initially overcome with the sensation of an odor of unimaginable decay. In fact, on entering the building, I thought for a moment that I once again detected the stench, at a greatly reduced level. However, the sensation quickly faded. Renworth was able to shake off the sensation fairly quickly as well. Of course, he was left dazed and confused for sometime thereafter. (Actually, I have noticed that Renworth is more and more apt to be dazed and confused of late – no matter what the circumstances).

Once he had overcome the nasal hurdle and had descended into our new workspace, Renworth was exceedingly pleased with the facilities. We both feel that our success is inevitable.

June 29th, 1922

We have produced the first batch of our new line of medicinal offerings. Renworth and I have both been very pleased with our workspace and have found it to be a pleasant place in which to undertake our labors.

We have also had stunning success in finding clientel. Fortune indeed has smiled upon us in that a squadron of revenuers has seen fit to sweep down upon Arkham and smash the barrels and bottles of inebriation with the axes of self-righteousness and intolerance. The crackdown has left Arkham’s teeming underworld with little in the way of aids to their frivolity. From the few contacts which we had earlier made, word of our venture spread with great alacrity. We have positively been inundated with requests for all manner of medicinal amusements.

The incredible level of business activity has been like opening spigots of wealth. We have ample resources to purchase new raw materials and even upgrade our salon. However, we have been so pleased with our little laboratory that we are not planning on relocating our enterprise’s production site anytime soon.

Of course, many people would probably find it unsettling to be working in an embalming room, in the basement of an old mortuary, surrounded on all sides by tombs and graves. Renworth and I, however, have both had several years of instruction in medical college. Therefore, the setting doesn’t bother us in the least. Although, to be truly, brutally honest, even with our experience and education, when I am working alone, in the middle of the night, I do occasionally feel a chill on my spine. The good news, however, is that I have within easy reach all manner of antidotes for any and all uneasiness that may afflict the human soul. In fact, I have found that when working late at night, I tend to stumble across a wide variety of wonderous discoveries by mixing and matching our alchemical wonders. Working at this location seems to have actually caused me to develop some truly amazing skills at devising nerve de-janglers.

July 8th, 1922

Renworth and I have continued to be successful in our business endeavors. In fact, we have been so successful that we have taken on our first employee. We have hired an accountant to help us keep our books balanced. For no apparent reason, both Renworth and I have been making numerous errors on our balance sheets. Its strange, I’m certain that the both of us were much better at mathematics back when we started at old Miskatonic.

I have also continued to have great success at synthesizing new recipes for extremely popular antidotes for the woes of life.

As a side note, I should record that last night I stumbled across a recipe that was definitely not one that would be pleasing to our clients. I was experimenting with combining various stimulants with absinthe. I decided to add just a tiny pinch of hemlock to spice things up a bit. Then I mixed in some powdered rye of questionable character which a local source had sworn was very nearly magical in quality. The result was astounding.

Initially, I only experienced some fairly mundane hallucinagenic affects – such as the room seeming to flip upside down and then turn inside out. However, soon thereafter, the affects became infinitely more peculiar – and more disturbing.

It was as if the very flesh was suddenly ripped from the bones of reality itself. I found myself floating in a great abyssal non-reality. Beside me was a great shimmering surface that undulated as if blown by a wind that I could not feel. Far, far in the distance I caught glimpses of phantoms floating through the infinite void.

All about the immediate area in which I was situated were strange “strands” of darkness which stretched and interwove like an enormous net of malevolence. Then, I realized that, seemingly wrapped within portions of this nearly tangible material, were the unmoving forms of human-like ghostly bodies. Although it was hard to determine at first, the things wrapped in the “strands” seemed similar to the phantoms which floated freely through the void in the far, far distance.

I undertook the questionable action of trying to approach one of these “wrapped” “things”. As I moved, I realized that I was not walking so much as just “willing” myself forward. There was, after all, no surface on which to walk.

When I had come close to the wrapped thing, I began to examine it closely. It was, indeed, of a nature similar to that of the far off phantoms. In fact, as I studied it, I realized that it seemed to be the ghost or spirit of an adult human male. Then the most fantastic of realizations struck me. This was actually the ghostly form of a resident of Arkham which I recognized!

It was a man that I had earlier seen as I had come to our workshop in the basement of the mortuary. He had been alive when I saw him, but only just barely. He was obviously an immigrant of Eastern European descent. He had somehow been injured and was being taken inside the nearby hospital. I probably wouldn’t have even noticed the man at the time except that he had been losing so much blood that one couldn’t help but be aware of his presence. Upon realizing that I was looking at his spirit, I came to the conclusion that he must have lost just a bit too much blood.

Then I began to wonder, why is this man’s phantom not moving about like the phantoms in the distance? What is this strange dark strand-like substance in which his ghost is wrapped?

I moved on to another one of the wrapped bundles and began to examine it. This accumulation of strands was also enclosing a ghost-like figure. However, I had no way of recognizing this phantom. It appeared as if the ghostly shape were extensively decayed. It also appeared as if this new specimen was less substantial than the previous ghostly figure I had examined. The phantom seemed somehow hollow. It was almost as if something had been sucking out the insides of the spirit – if spirits can really be said to have insides…

The drained, rotting phantom was extremely unpleasant. However, it would be my fate to behold an image even more unpleasant that night. At a juncture of the tangled strands of darkness, not too far distance, I thought that I perceived a hint of movement. I focused my attention on that spot, trying to discern what might be there. Unfortunately, I was successful in my attempt at discernment.

What I saw was a huge and horrendous creature that seemed to be much more solid than anything else in the whole phantasmal landscape. It was a huge spider-like creature, slightly larger than a full grown man. It bore huge, viscious looking manibles on its head that seemed to drip globs of shimmering, bubbling ichor. Its frontmost appendages ended in wicked, curved talons that likewise dripped globs in a highly distressing manner. It had many glowing red eyes which I suddenly realized were looking right at me.

In an instant, the monster had leapt from its nodule of shadow strands and was upon me. It gave forth a stomach turning hissing noise as its terrible manibles began to widen, (no doubt widening with the intention of soon snapping shut again – as it snipped me in half).

Just as I was about to surely die a horrible, horrible death, I was snatched from the monster’s grasp, and indeed from the grasp of that entire world. Renworth was standing before me. He was grasping a large beaker which was still dripping small amounts of the water which he had apparently just poured from it onto my head.

He looked deeply disturbed. He said that he had thought I might have been dead when he entered the lab. He helped me up and forced me to walk around the room for several minutes. Then he helped me get home, where I collapsed into a deep sleep for nearly twenty-four hours. Renworth avers that I had my eyes wide open during the whole duration of that slumber. I can’t doubt him in this, due to the fact that, when I arose, I felt as if my eyes had developed a horrible crust over them.

I must definitely remember not to try that particular mix of substances again.

July 10th, 1922

Although I have been most careful not to once again mix together those substances which flung me into that horrible hallucination, I have experienced a momentary flash of that world once again. Perhaps that particular toxic mixture has left some lingering effects. I dearly hope that those effects are of an extremely temporary nature.

July 14th, 1922

Once again I suffered a momentary flash of the nightmare void world.

The flash seemed to be of a slightly shorter duration than the first. I can only hope that this indicates that the after-effects are going to diminish as time goes on.

July 17th, 1922

I am glad to relate that I have had no more of the disturbing flashes of the nightmare world for the past several days.

However, I did experience an odd occurence today of an entirely different nature. I was working at the production site, (in the basement of the ex-mortuary), around noontime. As I was working, I heard a pounding at the front door of the building. I did not bother to answer the knocking due to the fact that the door was Mr. Effluvium’s front door. Although I was aware that Mr. Effluvium was out for the day, I did not feel it was my responsibility to answer our landlord’s door for him. However, the pounding continued intermittently for the next fifteen, or so, minutes.

Finally, out of sheer irritation, I climbed the stairs and opened the door.

Standing outside on the porch was a smallish gentleman. He was impeccably attired in a highly fashionable suit. The suit was obviously of extremely high quality and cost. The man was also wearing an extremely well-polished pair of leather boots which I recognized to be of a European make. I was rather surprised that someone as markedly unpleasant as Mr. Effluvium would have a caller of this caliber. I was also surprised that such a man of means would display the ill manners he had demonstrated in his relentless hammering upon the door.

After the interminable length of knocking that the fellow had undertaken, I was expecting to find him in an excited state. After all, such persistence generally connoted an emergency situation. Such was not the case. The small, well dressed man appeared to be quite at ease. In fact, he appeared to be almost cheery.

He made a slight bow to me and offered me a calling card. As he did this he stated that he was a professional exterminator.

Making a point to be rather obvious about looking at his exquisitively tailored suit, I stated that I must have mis-heard him. I told him that I thought he had just said that he was an exterminator.

Smiling even more broadly, he stated that he had indeed said that he was an exterminator. Then, he went on to state that he had come due to the fact that he had heard that we had an infestation of “curtain spiders.” He said that he was an expert of ridding buildings of that particular brand of pestilence.

Due to the manner in which he was dressed, and the manner in which he spoke and held himself, I was still highly skeptical regarding his claim of being an exterminator. Nevertheless, I informed him that the owner of the premises was not available.

Smiling and bowing once more, the man then simply stated that I should give Mr. Effluvium the card which the man had earlier given me. Then he simply wished me a pleasant day and left.

All in all, I suppose it wasn’t such an incredibly strange encounter. However, for no apparent reason, it seemed extremely odd at the time.

I ended up leaving the lab for the day before Mr. Effluvium returned. I still had the card in my pocket. I should have left it on his table with a note, but it slipped my mind. I’ll have to remember to give it to him tomorrow.

I happened to look at the card a few moments ago. The card says absolutely nothing about extermination services. In fact, the only legible thing on the card is a number for a local telephone exchange. The rest of the card is covered with all sorts of strange looking symbols. I wonder if the fellow handed me the correct card?

I wonder if curtain spiders are poisonous?

July 18th, 1922

Today I had another strange encounter. It was related to my encounter with the “exterminator” yesterday.

Renworth and I were both at our salon, entertaining clients. The client I had been dealing with had just left when I happened to accidentally pull the “exterminator’s” calling card out of my breast-pocket and drop it on the floor.

Renworth was speaking with a fairly regular client of ours. The client is named Ozric Thorncroft and he is a rather new arrival to Arkham. Mr. Thorncroft purchased an extremely old home on the edge of Arkham. It is supposedly one of the oldest homes in the entire town. Although I’ve never seen the home, I’ve heard that it is pre-revolutionary, perhaps up to 300 years old.

Since Mr. Thorncroft’s arrival, there have been quite a few rumors circulated regarding him. Many of the older residents of Arkham claim that Mr. Thorncroft is a witch. Of course, many of the older residents of Arkham say a lot things. In fact, many of them have a tendancy to say a lot of things about Renworth and me.

Most of the things that the older residents of Arkham say are of a suspect level of veracity, at best. However, some of our regular clients have actually come to know Mr. Thorncroft quite well. Those clients also tend to say that Mr. Thorncroft is a witch. They tend to say it in a much friendlier manner, however.

I was never sure about the rumors regarding Mr. Thorncroft. The one thing I did know, however, was that he routinely purchased products from us that have historically been known to have found use in pagan rituals.

When I dropped the “exterminator’s” card, it instantly caught Mr. Thorncroft’s attention. As I picked the card up, he asked if he might see it for a moment. After closely examining the card, he inquired where I might have come across it.

I related an abbreviated version of my encounter with the “exterminator” yesterday. Mr. Thorncroft seemed slightly disturbed by my tale. He told Renworth and I that the symbols on the card were of a magical nature. He said that they weren’t the type of symbols that he normally dealt with, so he couldn’t determine exactly what their purpose was. He asked if he could copy down some of the symbols on another piece of paper so that he could try to do some research on them.

I was more than happy to allow him to copy the strange symbols. However, now that he had brought up the subject of magic, I was overcome by the desire to ask him a couple of questions regarding the rumors I had heard about him.

Mr. Thorncroft actually told us, (with a perfectly straight face), that he was indeed a witch. Then he corrected himself and stated that it would be more accurate to say that he was a priest of faith that practiced a “highly eclectic style of neo-paganism.” He said that he routinely practiced witchcraft and “ceremonial magic.” However, he also claimed that he only used magic to aid others. He said something about a belief that he should “harm none”, whatever that may imply.

At any rate, according to the story he told Renworth and I, Mr. Thorncroft had come to Arkham because of certain varieties of “energies” which seemed to be concentrated here. He said he was here to study Arkham and to render spiritual aid to any that might desire it.

When I mentioned that the “exterminator” had come because of “curtain spiders,” Mr. Thorncroft grew even more interested. He said that he had been studying the early history of Arkham and had found a similar term mentioned. In fact, he said that the name “Arkham” may be derived from an ancient name for this area that is related to spiders. The name he gave was something like “Arachnium”. However, he said not to quote him on that because it was highly speculative.

July 19th, 1922

I gave the “exterminator’s” card to Mr. Effluvium today. When he saw it, he became quite agitated. He was angry and demanded that I describe the “exterminator” to him. In fact, he had me describe the fellow to him about eight times. He was interested in every little detail about the man that I could force myself to recall.

Then he ended up working himself into something of a fit. He was pacing around angrily, stating that the man did not know what he was dealing with. He also said something about being threatened and being blackmailed.

Then he started talking about “revenge” while pulling large numbers of his books off his shelves and searching through them.

I decided not to mention anything about what Mr. Thorncroft had said yesterday. I didn’t want to take any chances on upsetting Mr. Effluvium still further. In fact, all I really wanted to do was get far away from him. Eventually I managed to slip out the front door. I decided not to work in the lab today.

August 25th, 1922

I have not made any entries into this journal for over a month. This lapse has, unfortunately, been due to my being confined to a hospital. Thankfully, this period of convalesence has finally come to an end. I am finally going to be able to rejoin Renworth in our business. I am truly thankful to have a dependable partner that has been able to keep our business intact while I was ill. I also have to be thankful for the fact that our earlier success in our business made it possible for us to relocate our production facilities to another location. Hopefully, a much nicer, and safer, location. We also had good fortune in that we had the financial wherewithal to be able to restock our raw materials and all of our tools after they were destroyed last month.

If we had not been able to save up such a sizable sum, last month’s horrible occurrence would have been still more horrible for the two of us.

Although I would rather just let what occurred last month fade from my mind, I believe that I will be forced to record it here eventually. Therefore, I will record it now – just to have the ordeal over and done with.

I say that I will eventually be forced to record the events due to the fact that they have not yet faded from my mind at all. I fear that they never will. The events have kept replaying in my nightmares every night since they occurred. Without the aid of the sedatives that Renworth has been concocting for me, I doubt I would have been able to sleep at all of late.

I hold some hope that the act of recording the events here will act as a catharsis and free me of these demonic memories.

The events last month were related to the arrival of the “exterminator” that I have mentioned in several of my previous entries. At least, I believe they must have been related to him based on some of the things that we heard Mr. Effluvium screaming upstairs.

Renworth and I were both working late on the evening of July the 21st. We were in out production laboratory preparing an especially large order we had received. Apparently, one of our wealthier clients was having a celebration and wanted to provide his guests with samples of some of his favorite tonics.

As Renworth and I labored, we suddenly heard a loud impact upstairs. Although we’re not sure exactly what the sound was, it seemed as if something very strong had just knocked down the front door to Mr. Effluvium’s apartments.

We heard the sound of Mr. Effluvium’s feet scurrying across the floor upstairs, heading towards the door. As the sound of his feet came near the door, we heard Mr. Effluvium start screaming in anger. Although his screaming was largely incoherent to us, we were able to make out that he was threatening to kill someone who had apparently just entered the room upstairs.

Mr. Effluvium then screamed something about blackmail and threats. He went on to scream some things that sounded like “Sorcerery”, “Elder Gods”, “…don’t know what you are dealing with…”, and “powers of the elements.” He screamed a lot of other things, but either we couldn’t make them out at the time or we couldn’t quite remember them afterwards. Oh yes, he also screamed the word “fool” a lot.

About that time, Renworth and I noticed that the sound of Mr. Effluvium’s voice had changed somewhat. It still mostly consisted of wild screams, but had changed to a deeper and more thunderous tone. It also seemed to be taking on more of a chant-like character.

That’s when we heard another voice upstairs. I assume that it must have been the voice of the “exterminator,” but I can’t be absolutely sure. The voice sounded similar, but as it had also taken on a deep and thunderous chant-like timbre it is rather hard to tell. If the “exterminator” fellow had chanted a bit for me during his first visit I probably would have been able to positively identify the voice. On the other hand, considering what happened next, I would have to say that it is probably a very good thing that he did not chant anything at me the first time he stopped by.

As the two voices each chanted unrecognizable syllables, in what sounded like two extremely different languages, Renworth and I began to notice things. At first, they were little things, like dust falling from the ceiling and the formation of hairline cracks in the walls. Then they began to progress to things such sudden, short jolts of movement from the floor that would tend to send us sprawling. We also noted that the temperature seemed at first to increase sharply – to the point where we were afraid that our clothes may spontaneously combust. Then, the temperature would precipitously plummet to the point where we feared we would lose conciousness from having all the heat drained from our bodies. The smell of sulfur, and other chemicals that Renworth and I rarely used in our activities, also began to become quite noticeable.

During this time, the two parties upstairs seemed to have become even more enthusiastic in their chanting. The two were definitely chanting in different languages. In fact, the languages seemed not only to be merely different, but to actually be antagonistic towards each other.

I have always thought that French and German were two languages that just didn’t hit it off well together. However, the languages that were being spoken above us were quite clearly at each others throats. It’s as if the portion of the air that held an intonation from one of the tongues was violently colliding with the air that carried the arcane syllables of the other tongue. I could almost see bits and pieces of the air grappling with each other.

Sometime thereafter, things grew extremely violent. The entire building was rocked and wracked by large explosions and gusts of flaming wind. At times the chants would crescendo to a shrill, sharp sound which seemed to almost slice through us. That’s when a large beam fell from the ceiling and landed on me.

Renworth tried to extract me from beneath the beam so that we might try to escape, but it was no good. I was afraid that the beam was going to be forced down further by another violent burst. It felt as if it had already nearly cut me in half and I was sure it was going to finish the job at any time.

Renworth could clearly see that I was panicking and going into shock. He could also see that I was in intense pain. True to our chosen calling, he decided to administer drugs.

Unfortunately, the lab was in complete disarray. There was no way that he could have known what he was grabbing. However, he apparently had decided that something had to be better than nothing.

I’m still not sure if he was right. Whatever he used certainly made the pain disappear completely. However, it had some rather nasty side-effects. I strongly suspect that the substances he used must have included hemlock – possibly a fairly large amount of it. I would also hazard a guess that it contained some mushrooms that we had collected.

Whatever it was, it shared some common ground with the absinthe, hemlock, and rye cocktail I had sampled weeks before, because I found myself back in that nightmarish void.

Things looked a bit different there this time. The dark strands had largely ripped free of whatever they had anchored themselves to previously. They were whipping wildly in all directions. The great undulating surface was no longer so much undulating as it was spasming violently.

The drained and rotten phantoms had been flung loose from the wildly flailing strands of darkness and were floating about the area. They were tumbling and colliding with each other like atoms driven to madness by a sadistic over application of Brownian motion.

The horrifying spider-ish creature was still there. Luckily, it seemed too agitated to notice me. It was struggling with another entity which had not been present on my last visit. This thing looked more like a seething cloud of darkness which sat largely in one place as it spun wildly. The cloud also seemed to expand and contract somewhat as it spun, as if it where breathing heavily. I thought that I saw eyes opening and clothing in mostly random places all over the cloud. I may have also saw wickedly fanged mouths appear occasionally. Or, I may have just imagined those.

The spider-thing and the cloud-thing continued to struggle for some time. However, I eventually heard words issuing, (or I might almost say oozing), from the cloud. The cloud appeared to be informing the spider that the battle was at an end. It claimed that the victims of the spider would be its undoing.

As the cloud said that, I noticed that the drained and rotten looking phantoms had seemingly awoken and were beginning to move. The hideous wrecks of the spirit world began to converge on the spider, their decayed limbs were reaching out to rend and tear it apart.

The spider began to shriek in a horrible and hideous fashion. It lashed out in all directions at these new foes, but in the end, I watched them tear the great beast apart. I really didn’t want to watch it, but it seemed as if I was powerless to close my eyes or look elsewhere.

Sometime after that, I awoke in the hospital. Renworth was there. He told me that our lab was destroyed, as was the rest of the old mortuary. He had managed to somehow emerge from the wreckage unharmed.

He said that Mr. Effluvium’s remains had been found in the wreckage. No one knew how or why, but it appeared that Mr. Effluvium had somehow been ripped into many small pieces.

Renworth then went on to complain about the poor quality of the painkillers which the hospital was insisting on injecting into me. He poured scorn and derision upon the hospital’s weak and ineffective medicines. Then he snuck me a dose of something which made me feel very, very good – for quite a long time.

Sometime during the next couple of days, Mr. Thorncroft stopped by to visit me. Renworth wasn’t there, and to tell the truth I wasn’t completely there either. I was still enjoying the effects of some of Renworth’s ministrations. Thus, I’m not completely clear on what was said during the conversation which I held with Mr. Thorncroft.

However, I’m fairly sure he said something about ancient evils and about monstrous spiders that hovered at the curtain which divided the living and the dead. That part held my attention pretty well. He also said something about evil wizards animating empty husks of souls. He said something about creatures called Quilpoths – or some such thing. Apparently there was some trouble in the area with them.

Eventually, he realized that I really wasn’t absorbing much of the conversation. He told me to get well soon. Then he said some strange words and traced some odd shapes on my skin. It’s odd, but I did feel considerably better soon after he did that.

The next time that Mr. Thorncraft calls to pick up some of the herbal mixtures he often purchases, I believe that I should speak with him regarding our previous conversation. I’m wondering if I am recalling any parts of our conversation in the hospital correctly.

I have heard that the human mind will, at times, take it upon itself to modify the information which we receive from our senses. Apparently, our minds tend to try to make sense of our experiences, even if it sometimes involves altering our perceptions.

The experiences which I endured in that nightmare void seemed to certainly qualify as events which my mind would find troublesome to comprehend in any sort of coherent manner. Thus, I have to wonder if my addled brain may have altered portions of the conversation which I later held with Mr. Thorncroft.

Did he really say that necromancers were animating not just the dead, but the dead souls of the dead? Did he actually speak of evil arachnoid phantoms which ensnare the souls of the recently deceased? I may have just imagined he spoke such things due to the strange images which I beheld in that alien alternate reality.

Did he actually provide me with explanations for what could have only been hallucinations? I cannot be sure until I speak with him again regarding the matter.

On the other hand, it may be best if I don’t bring up the subject – I’ll probably sleep better.

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